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WIORA v. HARRAH'S ILLINOIS CORP.

September 27, 1999

SUSAN WIORA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
HARRAH'S ILLINOIS CORPORATION, D/B/A HARRAH'S JOLIET CASINO, A NEVADA CORPORATION, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ann Claire Williams, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Plaintiff Susan Wiora ("Wiora") filed a three count complaint in federal court against her former employer Defendant Harrah's Illinois Corporation ("Harrah's"). In Count I, Wiora alleges that Harrah's invaded her right to privacy. In Count II, she sets forth a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress, and in Count III, she presents a Title VII sexual discrimination claim under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Defendant now asks the court to grant partial summary judgment in its favor and dismiss Counts I and II. For reasons set forth below, this court grants Defendant's motion.

Background

Plaintiff Susan Wiora, an Illinois resident, worked as a waitress on Defendant Harrah's Joliet Casino. (Def.'s 12(M) Stmt. ¶ 2.) Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. is a holding company of Harrah's Illinois Corporation. Incorporated in Nevada, the Harrah's Illinois Corporation has its principal place of business in Illinois, the only place it is licensed to operate its casinostyle gambling boat, the MN Northern Star. (Def.'s 12(M) Stmt. ¶ 10-11.)

On December 15, 1996, a customer of Harrah's accidentally spilled hot coffee on Wiora's chest. (Compl. ¶ 3.) Immediately following the accident, Wiora received medical care from a paramedic, also an employee of Harrah's, in the first aid room on Harrah's Joliet Casino boat. (Compl. ¶ 4.) Wiora alleges that when she asked the paramedic if the surveillance cameras were filming, he assured her that they were off and instructed her to disrobe and apply certain medication to her chest. (Compl. ¶ 5-7.) After Wiora applied the medication, the paramedic instructed her to lay down in the first aid room after applying the aforementioned medication. (Compl. ¶ 8.) Before being transported to the hospital, an agent or servant of Harrah's gave Wiora a sweatshirt to wear. (Def.'s 12(M) Stmt. ¶ 4.)

Wiora claims that on or about February 1, 1998, she discovered that on the date of her accident, Harrah's did indeed film her as she was applying medication to her chest. (Compl. ¶ 12-14.) Defendant admits that there does exist a videotape that portrays Wiora applying medication to her chest. (Def.'s 12(M) Stmt. ¶ 5.) Wiora asserts that at least four agents and servants of Harrah's were present in the surveillance room at the time of the taping and saw the video tape from the cameras and/or photographs. (Compl. ¶ 17.) Wiora further contends that agents or servants of Harrah's showed the videotape and/or photographs to third persons. (Compl. ¶ 16.)

On July 30, 1998, Wiora filed a two count complaint against Defendant Harrah's claiming invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. She brought this original complaint on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. About a month later, Wiora amended her complaint to include a third count, a Title VII sexual harassment claim. Rather than filing an amended complaint, Wiora filed an amendment to the complaint, only adding Count III, the Title VII claim. In her amendment, Wiora states the court has federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Defendants now ask the court to grant partial summary judgment in its favor for Counts I and II.

Analysis

Defendant moves the court to enter partial summary judgment on its behalf under Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. The court will render summary judgment only if the factual record shows "that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Bratton v. Roadway Package Sys., Inc., 77 F.3d 168, 173 (7th Cir. 1996) (quoting Fed. R.Civ.P. 56(c)). The court will not render summary judgment if "a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the nonmoving party." Sullivan v. Cox, 78 F.3d 322, 325 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248, 106 S.Ct. 2505, 91 L.Ed.2d 202 (1986)). In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, the court views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party. Bratton, 77 F.3d at 171; Sullivan, 78 F.3d at 325.

On a motion for summary judgment, the moving party "bears the initial burden of showing that no genuine issue of material fact exists." Hudson Ins. Co. v. City of Chicago Heights, 48 F.3d 234, 237 (7th Cir. 1995) (citing Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986)). Then the burden shifts to the nonmoving party, which "must set forth specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); accord, NLFC, Inc. v. Devcom Mid-America Inc., 45 F.3d 231, 234 (7th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 515 U.S. 1104, 115 S.Ct. 2249, 132 L.Ed.2d 257 (1995).

These burdens are reflected in Rule 12 of the Local General Rules for the Northern District of Illinois. Waldridge v. American Hoechst Corp., 24 F.3d 918, 921-22 (7th Cir. 1994). Under Rule 12(M), the moving party must submit a statement of material facts in the form of short numbered paragraphs supported by specific references to the factual record. Under Rule 12(N), the nonmoving party must submit a response to each such paragraph, including (in the case of disagreement) specific references to the factual record.*fn1 If the nonmoving party fails to disagree with a fact in the moving party's 12(M) statement, the court will deem that fact admitted. See Local Rule 12(N). Similarly, if the nonmoving party disagrees with a fact in the moving party's statement, but fails to support its disagreement with a specific reference to the factual record, the court may deem that fact admitted as well. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Flaherty v. Gas Research Institute, 31 F.3d 451, 453 (7th Cir. 1994).

The court reminds the parties of the necessity and importance of complying with the local rules pertaining to motions for summary judgment. The Seventh Circuit has made clear "`the exacting obligation [local] rules impose on a party contesting summary judgment.'" Little v. Cox's Supermarkets, 71 F.3d 637, 641 (7th Cir. 1995) (citations omitted). Local rules 12(M) and 12(N) are designed to "inform the court of the evidence and arguments in an organized way — thus facilitating its judgment of the necessity for trial." Id. Local Rules 12(M) and 12(N) clearly and specifically put the moving and non-moving parties on notice as to the required material each party must present to the court. Here, plaintiff filed neither a 12(M) response, nor a 12(N) statement. While the court must then deem facts contained in defendant's 12(M) statement admitted, it is not relieved of its obligation to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact. See Johnson v. Gudmundsson, 35 F.3d 1104, 1116 (7th Cir. 1994).

Harrah's argues that since Wiora can be considered a seaman by law, the Jones Act is her sole means to recover for personal injuries sustained while working on the casino boat. Harrah's further contends that under the Jones Act, employees may not recover for purely emotional injuries such as those resulting from invasion of privacy and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Since Harrah's maintains that Wiora has no remedy for her claims under the Jones Act, Harrah's asks this court to grant summary judgment on Counts I and II.

In the alternative, Harrah's argues that even if the Jones Act does not apply, the court lacks jurisdiction over Counts I and II. Defendant claims that the parties are not diverse and therefore, the court does not have diversity jurisdiction. Additionally, Harrah's urges the court not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction by virtue of Title VII. In response, Wiora claims that the Jones Act does not apply, given the facts of this case. In addition, Wiora contends that even if the Jones Act applies in this case, and that the court may not exercise admiralty jurisdiction, either under general ...


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